Innisbrook Golf Resort & Spa
Here is our review of Innisbrook Golf Resort & Spa that sits on 900 rolling and wooded acres which are home to four outstanding golf courses, 608 spacious rooms and suites, six swimming pools, a spa, restaurants, 3 bars, a nature preserve with natural lakes and ponds, and lots of fun activities and amenities. Located just 25 miles north of Tampa International Airport, Innisbrook has been renowned as a premier golf destination for over 35 years and is home to the PGA TOUR Transitions Championship on its Copperhead Course each March and the LPGA Legends Tour Open Championship on its Island Course each November.
Innisbrook was already Florida's most celebrated golf resort and it only got better with the recently completed $26 million resort-wide renovations, which included the addition of the new Indaba Spa, new restaurants and a gourmet market, as well as enhancements to the golf courses, clubhouses, lodging, and recreational activities like tennis. We were impressed with everything from the well landscaped grounds to the near prefect award winning golf courses to the outstanding lodging - all of which is coupled with excellent service, great food, and lots of recreational activities. What a fantastic place to enjoy a weekend getaway, a family vacation, a golf outing, a business meeting, or special event. Innisbrook Golf Resort is well deserving of being listed in Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Golf Resorts in America."
Golf at Innisbrook
Not only was Innisbrook included in the "Top 75 Golf Resorts in America," it was also included in Golf Magazine's “Top 100 Courses You Can Play.” Innisbrook is home to four very interesting, challenging, unique, and memorable courses, each of which has it's own unique characteristics and personality. Common to all four are near perfect lush and plush conditions, colorful and well manicured landscaping, rolling fairways, excellent putting surfaces, elevation changes of up to 70 feet, plenty of wildlife from squirrels to alligators, and scenery more reminiscent of the Carolina sand hills and Georgia foothills than the typical Florida terrain.
Copperhead is the best known of the courses primarily because it is host to the world’s greatest golfers during the PGA TOUR’s annual visit to the resort for the Transitions Championship. We got very lucky and were able to play Copperhead two days before the pros were going to tee off for the Transitions tournament. The conditions were excellent, the greens were fast, and the rough was thick and treacherous. I imagined the roar of the crowd as I stepped up to the first tee box and could hear the "ohs and ahs" as my drive ricocheted off the trees and kurplunked into the middle of the lake.
Copperhead is beautiful with it's rolling tree-lined fairways, sparkling ponds, white sand bunkers, and colorful landscaping. But you can't let that distract you because it's long, very demanding, and the last four holes (Snake Bite, Moccasin, Rattler, and Copperhead) have a nasty bite with strategically placed bunkers, challenging green complexes, risk reward opportunities, dog legs with tight fairways, and some tough approach shots. The wildlife (blue heron, raccoons, eagles, squirrels, alligators, and more) are abundant and I know I bonked a couple of them and left several golf balls next to the gators snoozing on the banks of some of the ponds. Read our review of Copperhead Golf Course to lean more about this outstanding course.
Ranked by Golf Digest as among the country's Top 50 Resort Courses, the newly renovated and lengthened Island Course is considered by many to be as equally demanding as Copperhead. You'll encounter plenty of water hazards, strategically placed bunkers, lots of trees, and more to keep you focused.
We loved the Island Course because every six holes is unique and very different from the previous six. The first six holes are bordered by the beautiful Lake Innisbrook and each hole requires some pinpoint accuracy from tee to green. The middle six holes feature rolling hills dominated by cypress and pine trees that will devour stray shots. The final third of the Island Course is home to a mixture of holes designed to reward the bold and penalize the errant golf shot. Your round ends at a finishing hole that is one of the most photographed in Florida. Here is a link to our review of the Island Course.
The North Course is very short by today's standards, but at about 6,300 yards it is one of the most challenging of the Innisbrook Courses. The fairways are tree lined and tight, the greens are well bunkered, and the par 3s will test your courage and accuracy.
As part of the recent renovation, North got some additional yardage to some of the par 4s and par 5's, several new strategically placed bunkers, and a few new waste bunkers. All of that plus eleven holes with water hazards make club selection and course management a requirement if you want to score well on the North Course. Check out our review of the North Course.
South is reminiscent of a links-style design after you get past the first three somewhat tight tree lined fairways. The wide fairways are forgiving, the terrain is gently rolling, and like most links style courses there are plenty of bunkers that range in size from small deep pot bunkers to some huge monsters that in my case took a couple shots to get out of!
Unlike some of the other courses, in most cases you can bring out the big dog on the South Course and grip-it and rip-it, but don't miss. South is regarded as the most resort like and easiest but the ample waste bunkers, 10 water hazards, undulating terrain, and some strong prevailing Gulf of Mexico breezes can make this 18 demanding. Here is a link to our review of the Innisbrook's South Course.
Fox Squirrel Course
The Fox Squirrel family course was created for all ages and is great for beginning golfers or young kids. This 9-hole, par 36 1236-yard walking course offers a perfect opportunity to practice your short game or spend some quality time with the whole family and introduce them to the joy the golf game.
Recreational Activities and Amenities
One of the things we really liked about Innisbrook is that there are plenty of fun things to do besides eat, sleep, and play golf, some of which includes:
- rent a bicycle, two seater pedal bike, or surrey and ride the trails or through the resort's 900 acres of undulating landscape, large expanses of open space and protected wetland areas
- round up a group for a game of basketball or sand volleyball
- practice your putting or give the kids a putting lesson on the miniature putting course or play a game of shuffleboard
- take some tennis lessons or clinics and then practice your game on any of the 11 Har-Tru Tennis Courts, 7 of which are illuminated for night play
- try your luck at catching a big Florida fish in any of several lakes or ponds on the property - fishing gear is available for rent
- take a casual stroll through the nature preserve
- to work up a sweat and shed some calories, play racquetball on one of the 3 courts which if you've got a group can be converted to some fun and competitive Wally ball
- spend time at the fitness center and wear off more of the calories from all of that good resort food
- enjoy one of the six pools or three hot tubs - the Copperhead, Island and Loch Ness pools have food and beverage service and the Loch Ness pool has two sand beach areas, a 15-foot waterfall, two winding water slides, a plunge pool with bubbling jets and fountains, water volleyball, bean bag games, sand volleyball court, and a monster-sized spa that seats up to 36 people
- attend a golf clinic to help improve your handicap
- stop by one of the three well stocked pro shops that have everything you need to both look good and hit the ball straighter and farther (I wish)
- enjoy some drinks and live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays at the Osprey Bar
After all of that and a few rounds of golf, why not visit the Indaba Spa for a massage or better yet a golfers treat - a special foot soak followed by an invigorating peppermint scrub which is followed with chilled towels after which the spa will use powerful hot stones to massage your feet and calf muscles to relieve tension and reduce swelling! May not help your game but you'll smell good and feel great. The new 18,000 square foot Indaba Spa has single and couples treatment rooms and a wide variety of services, a salon, meditation labyrinth, relaxation courtyard, treatment terraces, plunge pool, steam rooms, and a state of the art fitness center.
Dining at Innisbrook
If you're not disciplined like me or didn't spend enough time burning calories at the recreational activities, then you'll find that Innisbrook makes it much too easy to gain weight during your vacation or golf outing thanks to some excellent choices to keep you from starving. They do offer lots of low calorie meals but who wants to do that when you're on vacation!
Innisbrook Golf Resort has several options for breakfast lunch and dinner. For example, you can enjoy:
Turnberry Pub, named after the legendary Scottish golf course, serves a fabulous breakfast buffet, a good sirloin burger or blackened grouper sandwich for lunch, and the bar and patio overlooking the golf course is perfect after a round of golf for frosted mug of beer and some appetizers while you reminisce about your last round and in my case how I swear I'll play better tomorrow
Market Salamander Grille is excellent and has health concious recipes as well as traditional seasonal American cuisine inspired by fresh seasonal offerings and served with warm and friendly service
If you want to eat while soaking up the rays and enjoying the pool, then head to the pool and Grill at Lock Ness which has something for the entire family (grilled sandwiches, salads, monster dogs, and burgers) but my favorite was sitting by the pool sipping one of their fabulous tropical inspired frozen drinks
Market Salamander, next to the Pro shop for the North and South courses has wholesome chef prepared specialty foods, sandwiches, and flavored ice cream - they can also create a custom picnic basket for any of your day excursions
it's hard to beat a good lunch (my blackened Tuna club was out of this world), a cold beer after a round of golf, or a drink while you catch the scores at the Osprey Sports Bar or listen to the live music on Friday and Saturdays on the large outdoor patio with fire pits and comfy furniture - all of which overlooks a couple golf holes
As good as the Tuna Club on the outdoor patio was, my favorite was our outstanding dinner at Packard's Steakhouse where the food was delicious, the portions were gigantic, and the service was excellent. Packard's Steakhouse serves the finest aged premium beef steaks, sumptuous cold water lobster tails and fresh day-boat Floridian fish - all of which are finished with the Chef’s creative touches - in a very comfortable setting overlooking the signature Copperhead Golf Course. Bear with me for a few paragraphs because I have to tell you how good the food at Packard's was.
It took us quite a while to decide which of the several appetizers to start with - some of the choices included shrimp or crab cocktails, Hawaiian Tuna with sesame lo mien noodles, or Kona crusted lollipop lamb chops. We finally decided on the Asian Dumpling Platter which was delicious but big enough to serve a party of six easily - pan seared chicken, pork, and vegetable dumplings served with Thai peanut slaw, sweet soy and red chili dipping sauces. And they still tasted great the next day!
Just as I was about to have my third dumpling, a lobster bisque and gigantic Wedge salad with gorgonzola, beef stake tomato, apple smoked bacon, and blue cheese dressing arrived. Excellent! And as I was scraping the bottom of the soup bowl to get every last bit of the lobster bisque, our entrees arrived and my eyes about bulged out of my head when I saw the huge entrees.
I had a tough choice to make between the filet mignon with the Oscar topping of asparagus, crab, and bearnaise sauce or premium beef porterhouse with a rich beef au jus which was recommended. I went with the recommendation - huge, perfectly cooked, and melt in your mouth - wow! And I had to take several bites of the full rack of roasted lamb chops that were char broiled to perfection and covered with a garlic herb dijon crust and date mint jus.
It took two hands to carry the leftovers back to our condo. Not only were the portions huge and excellent but the service was outstanding - prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable about the menu and choices.
After a full day of golf and other activities and all of that good food, I was ready for a good nights sleep and it couldn't have been much better then the comfy king bed in our suite. We were staying in a one bedroom suite which was 980 square feet with a large bedroom, huge bathroom, spacious living room, fully equipped kitchen, and a great patio overlooking the green on one of the Copperhead Courses. Some of the other nice appointments included:
- 2 multi-line telephones, with data port and voicemail
- high speed Internet access
- color cable TV with remote control
- pay per view video games and movies
- pull-out sofa bed in the living room
- fully equipped kitchen with everything you would need to cook a gourmet meal or in our case devour our leftovers from Packard's
- coffee maker, microwave, and dishwasher
- breakfast bar and dining area with a round table and chairs
- clock radio, iron/ironing board, and hair dryer
- washer and dryer or a valet same day laundry service
Spread throughout the Resort's 900 acres are 28 different lodges which are home to a variety of suites and lodging options. Most of the suites have golf course views or lake views and are a chip or 3 wood shot to one of the six pools at the various lodges. Lodging options range from the 300 square-foot deluxe hotel room to the very spacious 1,400 square-foot suites. Each comfortable enclave provide features including complimentary high-speed Internet access, full kitchens, private patios or balconies, separate living and sleeping spaces, and beautiful views of Lake Innisbrook and our four Championship golf courses. The uniquely spacious suites are perfectly suited for families, golf groups, entertaining, as well as conference meetings that require a more productive and relaxed setting. For example, the 1400 square foot two bedroom deluxe suite has two bathrooms and is great for a family, two couples, or your golf buddies, or the 300 square foot hotel type rooms are good for singles or a couple, and the executive suite offers a comfortable parlor, bedroom with a king or two queen beds, built-in bar, fully equipped kitchen, and a private balcony or patio.
Bottom line - Innisbrook is a fantastic place for a family or golfing vacation. The pools, golf courses, and other amenities are outstanding, the food is great, and the lodging is very clean and comfortable. There are also lots of fun things to see and do within an hour of the Resort.